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Carrie Marshall

No, Amazon Freevee isn’t being shut down after Prime Video's controversial ads tier launch

A TV with the Amazon Freevee menu displayed.

Freevee, Amazon's free and ad-supported TV streaming service, is not shutting down after all. That's according to Amazon, which has denied a story in AdWeek that Prime Video's less prestigious sibling was going to be sent to the farm later this year.

The AdWeek story was based on a "source familiar with the matter", who pointed to the injection of ads into Prime Video as an omen. "If the question is whether or not Amazon will persist with two stand-alone streaming services, I'm certain the answer is no." A further three people told the publication that the overlap in content between Freevee and the ad-funded Prime Video, meant that Amazon was going to shutter the free service altogether, most likely later this year.

Amazon denies this. There are "no changes" coming to Freevee, its spokesperson said in a statement that has been circulating various news outlets, before the obligatory sales pitch: "Amazon Freevee remains an important streaming offering providing both Prime and non-Prime customers thousands of hit movies, shows and originals, all for free." 

Is Freevee's future still uncertain?

Most tech watchers know that when a firm says it doesn't have plans to do something, that often means that it does have plans but doesn't want to talk about them – so many industry watchers are adding a "for now" after the "no changes" here. The free ad-supported TV (FAST) marketplace is getting very competitive both in the US and in the UK, which is likely to contribute to downward pressure on advertising rates: here in the UK we're about to get the launch of Freely, a new FAST service with live BBC, ITV and Channel 4 channels. That's coming later this year. 

Ironically Amazon's move to push ads into Prime Video may help Freevee, in the short term at least. As the best streaming services have become increasingly keen on making more money from subscribers, more subscribers are cancelling their subs and moving to alternatives including FAST services instead. According to The Wall Street Journal [paywall], one-quarter of US streaming subscribers have cancelled at least three of their subscriptions in the last two years. That's a significant hike from the 15% who reported the same two years prior. It'd be interesting to see if there was also an associated increase in visits to pirate websites. 

After a relatively slow start, Freevee has been growing: according to Samba TV's State of Viewership report in late 2023, viewing numbers were up 11% year on year. And the wider market for free and ad-supported TV is booming, with one in three US viewers subscribing to at least one FAST service and one in four to an ad-supported subscription. I don't doubt that the moment Amazon decides Freevee isn't bringing in enough money it'll be shut down. But so far at least the rumours of its demise seem to be just that. 

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